Chelsea Soapbox: beaten but not humbled by Blues

In a model of even-handed match reporting, Pete Sixsmith praises what Sunderland did well, puts aside disappointment that we could not quite rise to the occasion and do better and salutes a powerful display by the Champions in general – one José Bosingwa da Silva excluded – and one man, Nicolas Anelka, in particular …

As games go, it was a good one. There was plenty of exciting and attacking football, some poor defending, controversial refereeing decisions and a sublime performance from one player. The pity was that we lost it.

These are the games where we measure our progress. Too many times in the past, we have come up against one of the very good sides at the top of the League and we have been rolled over. So, on that criterion, we have advanced. We were beaten, but Chelsea did not swamp us.

Read more

The bubble bursts for iPod-generation footballers

At last. Something from French football to cheer about, even if it doesn’t amount to that much more than a row of haricots verts …

It won’t matter whether they are used to listening to medleys of self-composed Andy Reid comeback songs, Charles Aznavour’s greatest hits or a spot of gangster rap.

The most refreshing news from French football in months, if not years, is that in future, players from at least two Ligue 1 clubs – the champions Marseille included – have a new rule to obey.

Read more

Crime, punishment and les Bleus: Malouda does community service

OK, not everyone is as fascinated as Colin Randall by the continuing French football crisis. But with time to spare before the World Cup semis, it seems appropriate to dot the odd i and cross a t or two following the condemnation by Liliam Thuram of Patrice Evra …

So Thierry
Henry had his meeting with Sarko, and one of the dinosaurs of the French Football Federation, its 75-year-old president Jean-Pierre Escalettes, has fallen on his sword.

Meanwhile Liliam Thuram adopts the role of stern, onlooking head of (a more glorious) history, and Florent Malouda puts in some post-mutiny community service in Haiti.

Read more

French farce: should Patrice Evra be banished from international football?

This clip shows why Patrice Evra, of Manchester United and France, is ranked among the best footballers in the world. There is also a case for saying the “and France” part of that description should now be considered a thing of history …

Here in France, the inquest continues at various levels, from grass roots to parliament, into the pathetic failure of the French squad to rise at any stage above a surly, snarling and professionally embarrassing presence at the 2010 World Cup.

Read more